When kindness touches it!"
This week has seemed unusually long and stressful. We've had altered schedules and standardized testing, after school meetings and staff development, and a looming deadline for progress report grades. On top of all that, our state is in an educational budget crisis--so bleak that the teacher's association has declared a "state of emergency" and teachers across California are planning to rally at the capitol in the coming weeks.
Even I, the eternal optimist, was near tears (and then actually in tears) several times this week. I was overwhelmed, overworked, and bombarded with negativity. Huge stacks of ungraded papers taunted me. Sleep eluded me. Rational thought abandoned me.
So how does one cope with the downward spiral of stress? The answer: with kindness and gratitude.
Even the smallest act of kindness--like making eye contact and smiling at someone, opening a door, or allowing another person to merge in front of you in traffic--can have positive psychological and physical effects. Serotonin levels increase, immune systems strengthen, and stress is tempered. And certainly we've all heard of the benefits of paying it forward. There's no end to the good that can come from simple acts of kindness.
In fact, my dispositon was greatly improved today thanks to just a few wonderful and kind people: the student who left a flower on my desk, my 4th period class who organized some pre-birthday singing and cake (they won't see me on my actual birthday this weekend), an encouraging word from a colleague, and a phone call from my dearest friend and her 3 year old son, who sweetly professed that he loves "Aunt Ni-ni." I find myself filled with gratitude for these small, but sincere deeds and hope that I can someday return the favor. I know I will sleep better tonight knowing that I've taken the time to smile today, to be thankful for kindnesses received, and anticipatory of kindnesses rendered.
Today's Gratitude List:
- all of the above +
- my sweatheart's cooking
- random skyping with my family
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